Despite the recent backlash over comments, a website comment system is far too valuable to abandon. Studies have shown an increase in engagement, retention, and customer loyalty when brands get their users involved in the action by allowing them to upload their own content. This practice, otherwise known as UGC (user generated content), has powered various campaigns including the popular yoga apparel brand Lululemon, which encouraged fans to upload pictures of themselves working out under the hashtag #TheSweatLife.
Obviously, this tactic was extremely effective marketing for the company as it gives people their 15 minutes of fame, while also developing a greater connection to the brand. For blogs and online publishers, comments are your UGC. They are the space in which your users contribute their thoughts and opinions, essentially putting a piece of themselves into your content. That’s why it’s important to keep your website comments section. However, changing them up to fit the needs of a modern audience is a great way to make your comments exponentially more powerful. Yet, updating your website comment system is not common practice. For this reason, many companies don’t even know it can be done. If you’re looking to change up your online engagement platform by adding or improving your website comment system here are key points to help you get started:
Change the Structure
Comments have existed for quite a while. That’s why it’s about time for them to get a makeover. Not only is the traditional linear structure boring, but it also has a knack for attracting spam as there’s no way to filter or to unsee specific comments. That’s why many commenting systems have begun to initiate an approval process, only showing comments that passed a moderator’s approval. Others have a “most popular comments section” which filters comments based on engagement rate rather than the time it was posted.
To take these improvements to the next level, other website comment systems have appeared as a sidebar, providing a different look and feel altogether. Comments appear in real-time in order to provoke natural conversation and comments do not show up at all unless the user chooses to see them and get in on the action.
The most effective form of leadership is leading by example. Same goes for your comments. If you want your website comment section to be successful, you need to dedicate the time and energy necessary to make it happen. This means you too must comment. As a community manager, it’s vital to respond to your users comments, so your users feel that they are being heard. This helps ensure the conversation keeps flowing as it encourages your users to continue to take part in dialog.
In addition, if you see that your comments section is relatively empty, try provoking conversation yourself. Ask a question, write updates, and add a bit of humor into the mix. This way, you show personality, dedication, and leadership, which will encourage your users to get involved themselves.
Reward Positive Commenters
If your users make the effort to comment, they deserve something in return. After all, they are dedicating the time not only to read your story, but also to take it all in and provide their own insights. While there’s no problem with giving physical rewards (t-shirts, coffee mugs, etc.), those are not necessarily required. By simply highlighting their involvement and putting them in a “most valuable contributor” category, active users receive the feedback and appreciation they crave.
The most valuable conversations occur not only between you and your user base, but amongst individual users themselves. Thriving communities generally have many conversations going at once, and give the opportunity for everyone to speak their mind. The variety of voices is what give your comments section its power. That’s why it’s incredibly important to foster dialog between your users. This way, you strengthen your community and your comments fulfill their ultimate purpose.
There’s certainly a downside to comments. However, by using them wisely and upgrading them to fit your modern audience, they become an incredible tool for UGC and creating a flourishing online community.